Spanish illustrator Irma Gruenholz constructs hand sculpted, three-dimensional scenes using clay. Her surreal compositions primarily involve portraits of rosy-cheeked humans coupled with fantastical characteristics. A woman, posed like a frog, captures small human flies with her long tongue. Another illustration features a woman catching small bits of light between two chopsticks. Gruenholz forms the clay into smooth, elegant figures that don’t immediately read as handmade – they look like they could’ve been digitally produced.
A lot of work goes into crafting these illustrations. Gruenholz individually creates each character each character and scene using sculpting tools and paint. They’re held in place by stands and posed correctly. Scenes are photographed and later edited to remove the supports and produce the illusion that they could possibly be real.
For fans of pop-culture mash-ups, Rocky Davies has an amusing throwback for you. The artist takes iconic villains of the 1980’s and fuses them with the music of the same era. Its outcome is a bizarre series of fictional album covers. Using fonts and colors that are reminiscent of the time, Davies creates slick designs that channel a darker version of Lisa Frank art.
The stark black backgrounds give way to fluorescent accents, and nearly all of his designs feature his subjects wearing Wayfarer sunglasses. Looking impossibly cool, these characters intermingle with bold, geometric patterns and a lot of lens flare. Lyrics from songs like the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)are designed around the floating head portraits and take on a new meaning.
Davies’ series comes at the right time. It’s no doubt nostalgic, and it speaks to those who were coming of age in the 80’s. There’s enough time between their popularity and present day for people to realize how borderline cheesy these things were. These fake album covers are both an homage and poke fun at an era of visual excess. (Via Brother Tedd)
San Francisco-based illustrator Emma Munger combines two things that popular culture holds dear – the television show Twin Peaks and Sailor-Jerry style tattoos. She’s reproduced the classic flash pages you see in tattoo shops with characters from the bizarre David Lynch production. But, there’s a twist. Instead of a straightforward look at Audrey Horne, Laura Palmer, and the Log Lady, they are done in a pin up style.
The amusing mashup may never make you look at Twin Peaks the same again. Munger draws some characters sexier and some homely characters unnecessarily seductive.
Now that you can imagine these pinups on arms, legs, and other body parts, the real question is – would you ever get one tattooed? If so, which one? (Via Dangerous Minds and Welcome to Twin Peaks)
Rachel Suggs is a Baltimore-based illustrator whose soft mixture of water-based media and (sometimes) pencil conjure both beauty and intrigue. Her colorful-yet-desaturated compositions, often fantastical, feature people whose lives are intimately tied to nature. Tall trees, weeping branches, and florals are both background decor as well as the main characters in her illustrations.
Symbols and metaphors are prominently featured in Sugg’s works. We aren’t always given a clear sense of where a person or thing is, but based on the environment surrounding them, we can infer the emotions and motivation behind the subjects in her illustrations. Snakes and serpents show up in her work, which could communicate danger. Sometimes, we see birds and bugs, which, depending on what they are, could mean a metamorphosis or rebirth.
Romanian illustrator Aitch creates colorful images that are ripe with magentas, turquoises, electric yellows, and more. But, don’t let those bright pigments confuse you. While cheerful, there are some macabre moments that add an intriguing element to her detailed paintings.
Aitch is inspired by her travels, naturalistic illustrations, naive art, and folklore from around the world. You definitely get the sense of this through her series like The Garden of Good and Evil and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Both, as you might guess, are the retelling of stories – original sin and the C.S. Lewis tale, respectively – but through her own imagery and voice. Here, full-sized women with an array of unusual tattoos interact with the psychedelic landscape and a cast of fantastical creatures.
The same women appear throughout Aitch’s work in other series like Coffins. Here, it’s much like it sounds – we see decorative coffins, people buried underground, and a meditation on what happens after we’re gone. Her style lends itself to a more lighthearted, beautiful depiction of death and a return to nature where we’re wrapped up in gorgeous vines and flowers.
Davit Yukhanyan is an Armenian architect and illustrator whose incredible works have an stunning amount of detail. Each large and complex drawing contains hundreds of tiny drawings within its dimensions, and a central shaded figure occupies the center with outlined figures behind it. However, shading isn’t necessarily made using just your traditional pen techniques. Instead, animals, people, and objects fit together like pieces of a puzzle and change in scale. The smaller they are, the more dense the drawing which alters how dark it appears to the viewer.
Considering just how intricate Yukhanyan’s work is – with pieces measuring about 27 inches by 39 inches – it’s no surprise that he’s only produced two so far. Titled And When You Lose Control and Isolated Winner, the massive artworks are inspired by the world we live in. “Just as everything in our world consists of different pieces, my drawing also consists of different pieces in the form of small illustrations that come together into one overall creation,” he writes on Bored Panda. “I draw the artwork with this concept in mind.” (Via Demilked and Bored Panda)
Sit Haiiro is an artist from the Netherlands whose monochromatic illustrations are slightly askew. The portraits of young kids and animals have a serious tone to them, and they’re obscured by slight planal shifts, digital elements, and mysterious clouds. There’s little context to Haiiro’s works, with his subjects devoid of background or environment. This gives an eerie and off-putting feeling to the hand-crafted images, and it’s as if they are out of a dream.
Haiiro’s characters are very active and full of energy. Dogs are running at full speed, a crow is in the midst of flight, and a child jumps as high as he can. But, every action is punctuated and falls short. Pixelation and thin lines fracture faces, bodies, and enthusiasm. There’s an obvious visual sparring between the two, and Haiiro describes it as, “where the calm surroundings provide more opportunity for decision making, rather than being driven by the fast moving winds of change.” (Via Inspiration Feed)
Italian illustrator Virginia Mori uses black ballpoint pen and pencil on paper to create strange, lady-centric compositions. The minimal drawings feature long-haired women in surreal situations. Heads are often seen severed or parts of the body are fused with furniture. Although they are weird, Mori’s work isn’t gruesome. Even when a umbrella handle is coming out of a character’s mouth, there’s no blood or guts. It’s simply a surreal scene.
Mori separates mind from body, in both literal and figurative ways. Heads are rolling, they exist on different levels, and are obstructed by hair. It represents the idea that we can “disconnect” our mental from our physical self, and that this separation can feel like two entities. But in Mori’s illustrations, what causes it? Mystics? Physical ailments? Lessons not learned? The sparse compositions allow for multiple interpretations.